Justin Robinson's departure from the Carolina Chocolate Drops seems curiously timed, since there's every chance the group will win a Grammy Award next weekend. But the split has been brewing for a while. The Chocolate Drops spent 250 days on the road in 2010, a grind that was especially tough on Robinson.
"Some like to tour, some don't," Thompson's bandmate Rhiannon Giddens said recently. "Justin has other things in his life, he's a very outdoorsy guy. It's a very amicable thing. We were together five-and-a-half years, which is more than a lot. We hope he'll play with us some here and there, some shows with us next year, and on the next album. It's hard because we're having a lot of success with the Grammy nomination. It's hard to contemplate changes. But you don't want to hold someone against their will."
Meantime, plans for that next album continue apace. Guitarist Buddy Miller, who was just in Raleigh playing behind Robert Plant, is tentatively set to produce. And Robinson's new group, Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes, will play Feb. 19 at Durham's Motorco Music Hall.
ADDENDUM (2/14/11): Grammy victory!